Why Do I Have A Headache That Wont Go Away
First things first: If your headache wont go away, you need to figure out if its a sinus headache that wont go away or something else. Sinus headaches are caused by a buildup of pressure in sinus cavities that have become inflamed and are blocking regular mucus drainage.
Sinus headaches are often accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Feeling of pressure and/or throbbing around your sinuses
- Increased pain upon bending over
- Toothache in your upper teeth
Many of these symptoms, including congestion and increased pain upon bending over, can also be found in patients struggling with migraines. However, migraines are unlikely to last more than a few hours, whereas untreated sinus headaches can last for days at a time.
For more information about what might be behind your latest sinus headache, reference these additional posts:
What Are The Complications Of Sinus Headaches
In rare cases, complications around the eye area can happen, resulting in the area being swollen and inflamed. This may even affect your vision.
If you have a high fever that persists, discolored nasal discharge, rattling in your chest, or difficulty breathing, see your doctor about these symptoms. While a sinus headache might seem like a harmless health condition, its important to determine its cause.
What Is A Migraine Attack
Migraine is a common primary headache disorder . In essence they are the result of a neurological malfunction that is thought to originate in the brain stem. Medical scientists and researchers still arent exactly sure what causes a migraine attack.
Leading theories relate to hyperexcitability within certain areas of the brain or a disorder from the brain stem which triggers the migraine attack.
The brain stem is a small but extremely important part of the brain. It allows the nerve connections of the motor and sensory system to pass from the brain to the body. This controls bodily sensations and movement.
At the start of an attack, chemical changes are thought to develop in the brainstem which triggers a series of reactions causing the brain to respond abnormally to otherwise normal signals. The result from this hypersensitive response could be migraine.
Interestingly, at least 50% of people who experience migraine still have not been diagnosed.
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You Have A Crooked Or Deviated Septum That Is Hindering Your Sinus Drainage Pathways
A crooked or deviated septum can cause a blockage of the sinus drainage pathway, which often results in an infection.
Dr. Payam Daneshrad, ENT specialist and facial plastic surgeon at Daneshrad Clinic, told INSIDER that although a course of antibiotics will treat the immediate infection until the underlying obstruction is surgically corrected, you’re at a higher risk of developing frequent sinus infections.
Youre Dealing With Hormonal Issues Like Menstruation
Thanks to the drop in estrogen right before menstruation, many people experience PMS-related headaches. In fact, menstruation is one of the biggest migraine triggers for people who have periods.
But it’s not the only time a change in estrogen levels can cause a headacheboth perimenopause and postpartum periods are marked by a significant drop in estrogen, and as a result, often come with headaches. Pregnancy, too, affects estrogen levels, so you may notice that your headaches worsen during this time, the Mayo Clinic says. “Any time of hormonal change is a vulnerable time for headaches,” Dr. Hutchinson says.
Fix it: If you notice that your headaches appear to be cyclical and coincide with your period, its worth bringing this up with your doctor, who may suggest going on hormonal birth control or switching your current birth control.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, hormonal birth control can have an effect on your headache patterns and for some people, hormonal contraception may make headaches less frequent and intense because they reduce the drop in estrogen that happens during your menstrual cycle.
For short-term headache relief around your period, typical headache remedies can help, like using ice or a cold compress, practicing relaxation techniques, or taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication.
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Your Sinus Headache May Not Be What You Think
Nearly everyone experiences a headache at some point, and the pain can range from mild to debilitating.
Sometimes, headaches are accompanied by pain and pressure in your brow and forehead, and cause nasal symptoms. Many people associate sinus and nasal symptoms with a sinus infection, also called sinusitis, or with an upper respiratory infection, a cold. They may say that they are experiencing a sinus headache. But sinus and nasal symptoms often can signal something else: a migraine headache.
The term “sinus headache” is not an actual medical diagnosis. Studies show that 90% of people with symptoms of a sinus headache are experiencing migraine headaches.
Sinusitis or migraine?
Migraines and headaches from sinusitis are easy to confuse because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches may overlap. Also, migraine headaches affect people differently and symptoms can change over time. This is why many who have had migraine headaches in the past are surprised when they begin having sinus and nasal symptoms with a migraine headache.
Sinusitis, however, usually isn’t associated with nausea or vomiting, nor is it aggravated by noise or bright light all common features of migraines.
These are a few ways you can tell whether your sinus and nasal symptoms are part of a sinus infection or part of a migraine headache:
- Confusion or trouble understanding speech
What To Know When Youre Getting Headaches Every Day
Lets get this out of the way: Getting severe headaches every day isnt normal, so you should talk to your doctor, especially if they come on suddenly. Some headaches can indicate neurological disorders that require treatment, and sudden, severe headaches are always a cause for concern.So, whats a severe headache exactly? Most headaches fall into one of three general categories:
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What Are The Causes And Triggers Of Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches are most often a symptom of sinusitis, in which the sinus becomes inflamed from allergies or other triggers like an infection. Sinus headaches may also result from seasonal allergies that last an extended period of time. This is called rhinitis, or hay fever. Sinus infections and sinus blockages can also trigger sinus headaches.
What Are Sinus Headaches
Real sinus headaches are almost always from a sinus infection. Sinus infections are common with 10% to 30% of the population experiencing at least one sinus infection each year.
Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. This occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed. Common symptoms include thick nasal mucous, blocked nose and facial pain. Sinus infections may be caused by an infection, allergy or air pollution. Most cases are due to viral infection. Infections are often transmitted through coughing, sneezing, kissing, contact with contaminated surfaces, food or water or contact with infected animals or pets.
To understand how sinus headaches are confused with migraine its important to know what migraine is.
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How Do You Diagnose Sinus Headaches Caused By Migraines
Sinus headaches are most likely due to migraines or tension headaches. Migraines are diagnosed by symptoms, including the frequency and severity of symptoms, family history, and by physical exam. Migraines can also include nausea and vomiting. These episodes may be triggered by hormonal changes, lack of sleep, certain foods or alcohol or caffeine, stress, or environmental changes like weather, altitude changes, or allergens. Many patients with migraines have family members who also experience migraine headaches.
If you have unusual or severe symptoms, additional tests such as an MRI of the brain may be ordered to rule out more serious conditions that can cause headache pain, such as tumors or bleeding around the brain. If you have repeated episodes of sinus pain and pressure, a nasal endoscopy or imaging such as an MRI or CT scan can determine if sinus pain or pressure is due to a sinus infection or other sinus pathology. A normal sinus CT scan while you have symptoms could help rule out sinusitis, and determine if migraines, headaches, or other causes of facial pain and pressure are causing the sinus symptoms.
Other causes of facial pain and pressure can include temporomandibular joint syndrome, clenching or grinding your teeth, trigeminal nerve pain, temporal arteritis , dental infection, or other neurologic causes of facial pain.
Is Your Sinus Infection Acute Or Chronic
A short-term sinus infection is often referred to as acute sinusitis. Most cases of acute sinusitis last about a week, but this type of short-term sinus infection can last up to four weeks. If you suffer from a sinus infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite treatment from your doctor, its considered chronic sinusitis.
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Youre Trying Too Many Headache Remedies
Mixing, matching and overusing headache treatments can potentially backfire. Sometimes, the thing youre taking for headache starts working against you, Dr. Hutchinson says. Overdoing it on painkillers can actually make the pain worseand the caffeine in some headache medications can cause withdrawal headaches, compounding the effects. Overuse of any pain medication to treat headaches can cause whats called a rebound headache.
Fix it: If youve been taking a lot of OTC medications, try stopping for a day or drastically limiting your intake. If youre able to then have a day without a headache and dont need to take anything, then you can say youre out of the rebound, says Dr. Hutchinson.
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You Drink Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine causes vasoconstriction in your blood vessels, meaning they get a little narrower. If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks every day, your body gets used to it, Dr. Hutchinson explains. So when you skip it one day, your blood vessels don’t become constricted and can make your head hurt. It becomes a vicious cycle, slugging back a mug to find relief, and just further deepening your need for caffeine. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says that adults can safely consume up to 400 milliliters of caffeine per day , butkeeping in mind that everyones tolerance is differentafter that, your body might begin to rebel.
Fix it:“It’s unrealistic to tell all headache patients to avoid caffeine,” Dr. Hutchinson says. Instead, she recommends moderationa maximum of two caffeinated drinks in one dayto avoid that withdrawal headache when you go without.
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Rare Cases Can Turn Serious
Antibiotics also can help ward off rare but potentially dangerous complications that arise when a sinus infection spreads to the eyes or brain, Dr. Sindwani says.
Complications around the eyes are the more common of the two. These complications can cause redness, swelling around the eyes and reduced vision, and even lead to blindness in a severe form known as cavernous sinus thrombosis. Serious cases are immediately treated with IV antibiotics. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for a CT scan to see if fluid needs to be drained, Dr. Sindwani says.
Also in rare cases, sinus infections in the rear center of ones head can spread into the brain. This can lead to life-threatening conditions like meningitis or brain abscess, Dr. Sindwani says.
Before antibiotics, people would die from sinusitis, he says. But he emphasizes that such complications are unlikely. In most cases, the bacterial infection goes away, especially if you dont have underlying medical problems.
Its important to monitor your symptoms if you suspect a sinus infection. If the condition lingers or worsens, call your doctor.
How Do You Stop Sinus Headaches
If youre wondering, why do I keep getting sinus headaches every day and how can I get some relief from my frequent sinus headaches? you have options. For many, sinus problems can be treated effectively with the use of OTC medication and home remedies. Patients whose sinus issues and frequent sinus headaches do not respond well to traditional treatment, however, may wish to seek additional treatment. And one of the safest and easiest treatments available today is balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure performed at Sinus Solutions of South Florida Dr. Napoleon Bequer, a highly acclaimed ENT of South Florida. The procedure lasts less than 20 minutes and has provided thousands of patients nation-wide with long-lasting sinus relief. The concept of balloon sinuplasty is simple. During the procedure, your doctor inflates a balloon within the sinus cavities, restoring proper sinus drainage.
No cutting of bone or tissue is involved, and most patients are able to return to regular activities within 24-48 hours.
Tired of dealing with frequent sinus headaches? Ask your ENT about balloon sinuplasty.
This 20-minute procedure has proved highly successful at providing long term relief from common chronic sinus problems including sinusitis, allergies, frequent sinus headaches, sleep apnea, and more.
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How Do Allergies Cause Migraine Headaches
The link is complex. Doctors are still trying to figure it out. So far, they know that your nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system all play a role.
If you get migraines, you have a sensitive nervous system. Your body tends to react very quickly, or overreact, to changes in your environment that it views as threats.
On top of that, exposure to allergens triggers your immune system to release certain chemicals. They can fuel inflammation throughout your body, all of which can set you up for a migraine.
If youâre prone to migraine headaches, your symptoms may be more severe during allergy season. Some people can also have ânonallergicâ triggers like perfume, the smell of gasoline, cigarette smoke, and weather changes.
The Lowdown On Stressed Sinuses
A flare-up of seasonal allergies, called hay fever, causes stuffy noses and irritated sinuses. But allergy sufferers will notice mainly that they have a runny nose with clear output and itchy, watery eyes. Their symptoms are also often tied to certain times of year and specific allergens like animal dander, dust, pollen or mold.
If youre plugged up with thick mucus thats green or yellow, you could have an infection. Sinus infectionswhether caused by bacteria or a viruscan also bring along other symptoms like mild headache, fatigue, weakness or a cough. Viruses are far more likely to be the cause of sinus infections. Certain symptoms increase the probably of bacterial sinusitis:
- Persistent sinusitis symptoms for longer than 10 days, especially with double worsening. This means symptoms start to improve and then get worse a few days later.
- A fever, especially a high one over 102 .
- Asymmetric pain in one or more sinus areas. These include under or above the eyes and above the bridge of the nose.
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What Distinguishes Migraine From A Sinus
The initial presentation of sinus infection is so similar to migraine that it is often mistakenly diagnosed and treated like just another headache. However, despite overlapping symptoms, differences between the two entities can be distinguished through a careful evaluation.
Migraine is a familiar event, with or without warning symptoms . It may be gradual or abrupt in onset, moderate or severe in intensity, is often accompanied by a sensitivity to light and sound, and by nausea and vomiting. The pain may be one-sided or diffuse, limited to the front, top, or back of the head, and may often reach into the neck. It may hurt in the face area as well. Migraine may be provoked by other illnesses that affect the head or neck, such as a dental problem or respiratory or sinus infection. Migraine often subsides after several hours with the assistance of an effective rescue medication . For most, migraine is a distinct and familiar event with a predictable duration and resolution.
Migraine Vs Sinus Headache
It isnt always easy to tell the difference between a migraine and a headache, much less a sinus headache, but each condition does have its own set of specific symptoms. While some are shared, others are very distinct to the condition. This creates a strong case for keeping a migraine diary and documenting the details of and surrounding your headaches.
According to Dr. Ailani, the symptoms of migraine and sinus headache are similar because of the region of the brain that is activated during an attack:
Migraine can also have associated symptoms, symptoms that come WITH the headache pain that can be confused for a sinus or allergy problem. You can have a runny nose, watery eyes, your eyes can turn red. These symptoms, called autonomic symptoms, come on because of the area in the brain, the hypothalamus, that gets turned on during migraine.
Following this section are common symptoms for migraines as well as sinus migraine, sinus headaches and sinusitis. As you can see, many of them are identical or nearly identical. Its no wonder that patients struggle to describe their head pain and doctors struggle to diagnose it. The problem is, without a proper diagnosis you cant get proper treatment. If you are diagnosed with sinus headaches but you actually have migraines, it could delay your migraine treatment for years.
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